This past year has been full to the brim with lessons to learn, experiences of life, and God ever being steadfast. I have been stretched and pulled spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. It's hurt a lot and I've shed many tears in the process.
We are called to daily die to self. The victory has already been won for us through Christ's sacrifice, but we are still in our fleshly bodies and very much in the world. Temptations do not cease once we accept the gift of salvation. Instead they become opportunities to resist and grow closer in our walk with Christ. Trials and tribulations are meant to challenge us and push our limits. Sometimes we fall....BUT what is being required of us is to die to self and reach for the victory that Christ is already holding out to us freely given. Freely given you say? But doesn't everything have a price? Maybe it's free of charge, but I at least have to work for it, right?
The price has already been paid in FULL by the blood of Jesus Christ! We cannot obtain a gift by working for it. If that was the case we could no longer call it a gift. We cannot earn salvation. It is being FREELY given. Say we have accepted this FREE gift. Now what? One of my struggles after accepting Christ was that I falsely expected a switch to be flipped and perfection to be reached. That resisting temptations would be a breeze and God would give me patience in spades. In other words, I was expecting God to act like a vending machine. I would ask for what I needed or wanted and as His child there would be no hardship in obtaining my requests. Instead I found myself on the front lines in a battle I felt wholly unprepared for.
This year alone God has been showing me that I need to be STILL and KNOW that He is God, keep a quiet heart, that prayer can be messy, and He is FAITHFUL. He's also convicted me of different areas of sin in my life that need to be addressed. Bitterness, jealousy, impatience, insecurity/self-worth, and lack of trust in God. I am always a work in progress.
There's a couple verses in Isaiah that God has shone some light on to get my attention.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
Have you ever noticed that as you search the Scriptures that Scripture itself becomes your plea? Your prayer? Your praise?
I've clung to this,
draw comfort in this,"Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer.From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name." Psalm 61:1-5
"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You." Psalm 63:3
and always rejoice in these sweet words:"Bless our God, O peoples, and sounds His praise abroad.Who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip.For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me." Psalm 66:8-12, 20
"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I have hope in Him.'" Lamentations 3:22-24
I know there are more lessons to come and that being in the midst of a war zone is no small task, but I am thankful. Each challenge I go through God prepares me so that I might stand stronger in the next battle.
In closing, I will leave you with this:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of the wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm.
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints," Ephesians 6:10-18